Where does the time go?

September 19th, 2011 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

“Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug.”
John Lithgow

We live by commercials … life moving in 30-second increments. Whole stories are laid at our feet in half the time it takes to fix a batch of Minute Rice.

Consider the harried Traveler’s Insurance pooch: wake up, find bone, bury bone, fret about it, take it to the bank, go home, worry, worry, worry, back to bank, get bone, scurry to the back yard, cue the insurance. There’s character, exposition, action, conflict, soul-searching, symbolism, metaphor and resolution. It’s a work of art and literature.

This is a problem for a writer.

Thirty seconds of wide-open time has a way of shrinking, shriveling and decomposing before all the must-have, salient points start piling into each other at about :23 (set-up…atmosphere…laugh line…vital info…more info…… disclaimerphoneaddresslogodone).

Even in business-to-business advertising, which is largely commercial-less, we have the task of fitting every last, flipping fact into digestible blocs of type, tweets and mobile alerts. I’m involved in a video project now calling for interviewees to make a spontaneous statement within 10-15 seconds. Most finish in the twenties. One arrived with a 12-line cheat sheet that would have timed out at a minute.

Our perception of time is up for grabs. So perhaps we all should take Thomas Jefferson’s idea as our mantra: “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” Now that I look at it, even he could have left out the words “that of” and cut a second.

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